Wicked Haunted: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers edited by Scott T. Goudsward, Daniel G. Keohane and David Price
NEHW Press (October 2017)
274 pages; $14.99 paperback, $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
I am happy to report there isn’t a bad story in this entire anthology. Sure, some are better than others, but each original story has its own unique twist to the ghost story trope. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a good ghost story and this collection has filled that void nicely.
“The Thing With No Face” by Peter N. Dudar—A wonderful start to this anthology of ghostly tales. A return to a childhood home causes Kevin Ellis to remember a tragic day. “But the thing standing directly in the center of the lawn was loathsome; a silhouette of spindly white arms and legs that fluttered in the hot pre-dawn breeze like a frayed flag. The apparition floated in defiance of the tangible things surrounding it, as if it somehow wanted to find the same permanence but could not.”
“Lost Boy” by Bracken Macleod—Tale of the ghost of a boy who once was. Bracken succeeds in building the suspense in his contribution to Wicked Haunted.
“Scrying Through Torn Screens” by Patricia Gomes—One of a few poetry selections in the anthology.
“They, Too, Want to be Remembered” by KH Vaughan—The nightmares in this short would be funny, if they weren’t terrifying. “But I am not so fortunate. I wake with a start to the sound of destruction and mayhem. There are horses in my apartment, crashing through the windows and rearing high enough to scrape the ceiling with their hooves. My coffee table and flat-screen are toppled and smashed beneath sharp hooves. Their eyes are wild and rolling. This time I am not dreaming.”
“Everything Smells Like Smoke Again” by Curtis M. Lawson—Another above-average ghost story as evidenced by a glowing cigarette. I loved this story.
“The Boy on the Red Tricycle” by Dan Szczesny—An effective story about Sam and the ghost who becomes like a son to him. Trust me when I tell you this story does not end well for anyone.
“East Boston Relief Station” by Paul R. McNamee—A kidney stone, a GPS pointing in the wrong direction, and a ghost in the East Boston Relief Station.
“Mouse” by Larissa Glasser—Loved this ghost story with a transgender theme. Told from the point of view of the ghost. Larissa has created something special with her contribution to the anthology.
“The Walking Man” by Matt Bechtel—Not all ghosts are dead. A story with a terrific twist from one of my favorite writers.
“My Work is Not Yet Completed’ by Nick Manzolillo—A wildly imaginative telling of the story of the ghost of Samuel Clemens.
“Ghosts In Their Eyes” by Trisha J. Wooldridge—Poetry is not my thing, but Tricia uses the format to tell a wonderful story.
“They Come With the Storm” by Dan Foley—Lost love and ghost-laden storms make for one creepy tale.
“Turn Up the Old Victrola” by Tom Deady—Tom Deady is becoming one of my go-to writers for entertaining stories. Last year he was awarded a Stoker for his debut novel, Haven, and I just read his new novella, Weekend Getaway. Here he tells a wickedly entertaining tale of a haunted Victrola.
“Ghost Maker” by Emma J. Gibbon—Asking the poignant question, “If you get an abortion, do you create a ghost?”
“The Pick Apart” by Paul McMahon—Another effective ghost story involving a girl killed in a bridge collapse.
“The Stranding Off Schoodic Point” by R.C. Mulhare—Story of an apparition at sea. A tale with a lovely twist.
“Triumph of the Spirit” by GD Dearborn—Life as a ghost through the eyes of the spirit. Wonderfully told.
“The Road to Gallway” by Rob Smales—I loved this story and its wonderful twist.
“The Thin Place by Morgan Sylvia”—“There’s a ghost in my house,” I said. She looked at me thoughtfully, and then closed her mascara-laden eyes and did some mumbo-jumbo with her hands, her heavy rings flashing in the light. A moment later, her eyes snapped open. “Analea,” she said. “A victim of the fire.”
“Tripping the Ghost” by Barry Lee Dejasu—An odd story of bodies, mushrooms, and, of course, ghosts.
“we’re all haunted here” by Doungjai Gam Bepko—A touching and heart-warming story told by a new ghost. I just loved this line: “The living claim they’re the ones haunted by ghosts, but those of us already dead are every bit as haunted by the ones we left behind.”
“Murmur” by Jeremy Flagg—Witches using magic and computers to communicate with the dead get more than they bargained for.
“Pulped” by James A. Moore—A great way to end the anthology. When it comes to James A. Moore, I’m admittedly a bit of a fanboy. This is a wonderful story of an early superhero, now a ghost, seeking revenge.
As I was writing this review, I was reminded how much I enjoyed reading this anthology. So many great stories from familiar authors and authors new to me. As a reader, you can’t ask for more than that.